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Donnachadh McCarthy is among those engaged in a peaceful 'sit in' protest in Parliament Square on Monday 4th of May at the foot of Mahatma Ghandi's statue, prior to his arrest. Photo: via Facebook.
Donnachadh McCarthy is among those engaged in a peaceful 'sit in' protest in Parliament Square on Monday 4th of May at the foot of Mahatma Ghandi's statue, prior to his arrest. Photo: via Facebook.
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  • Donnachadh McCarthy is arrested in Parliament Square on Monday 4th of May during a peaceful sit in at the foot of Mahatma Ghandi's statue. Photo: via Facebook.

    Donnachadh McCarthy is arrested in Parliament Square on Monday 4th of May during a peaceful sit in at the foot of Mahatma Ghandi's statue. Photo: via Facebook.

The poisonous extremism at the heart of yesterday's Queen's Speech

Donnachadh McCarthy

28th May 2015

Government plans to enact a 'domestic extremism' law, announced in yesterday's Queen's Speech, threaten to make thought criminals of all who challenge the established order, writes Donnachadh McCarthy. At risk are campaigners, protestors, journalists and all who dissent from Britain's neoliberal corporatocracy.

The wording is so vague and all-encompassing, that it gives the police a blank cheque to make criminals of all of us, without any of us even committing a crime. Is it not the ultimate in thought crime?

First they came for them ...
Then they came for me ...
Will they now come for you?

Given far far too little publicity and critique, this is what David Cameron said after being elected about the 'Extremism' legislation, which was outlined in yesterday's legislative programme:

"For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens 'as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone'. It's often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that's helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance."

What the hell does this mean?!! Even if we obey the law, if the police or the government or the Daily Mail or Rupert Murdoch decide that they do not like us, they will still not let us alone?!!

It is, simply, one of the most chilling statements by a British Prime Minister in my entire life - and surely the most fundamental attack on our freedom in a liberal democracy.

Don't mention the war - the one against us!

Was there any mention of this proposal in the BBC's coverage yesterday? On the One O'Clock news they interviewed children about seeing the Queen's gilded coach and a long ten minute interview with Arsene Wenger about the "aesthetics" of soccer - but no mention of this fundamental attack on our freedom.

Here's what the Queen announced: "Measures will also be brought forward to promote social cohesion and protect people by tackling extremism. New legislation will modernise the law on communications data, improve the law on policing and criminal justice ... My Government will work to reduce the threat from nuclear weapons, cyber attacks and terrorism."

Note the insidious change and abuse of language as it has developed over the years. Until recently, all the language after the illegal Iraq invasion understandably radicalised some young Muslims, was about tackling 'Islamic terrorism'.

Then it became tackling 'terrorism'. But very recently it has extended to tackling 'domestic extremists', 'extremism' and those who threaten 'British values, tolerance and our concept of democracy.'

The law will allow the police to require those citizens it deems 'extremist' to submit all their Facebook postings or Tweets to the police for approval. Remember we do not need to have been found guilty of a crime before they can demand this of us.

Who are the real extremists?

They are giving Ofcom powers to tackle any broadcaster who interviews someone they decide is an 'extremist'. So who and what is an 'extremist'?

  • Republicans?
  • Animal rights protectors?
  • Fracking protesters?
  • Occupy?
  • Anti-roads campaigners?
  • Council Housing demolition protesters?
  • GM crop direct action advocates?
  • Tories?!!!
  • Civil disobedience promoters?
  • Trade unionists?
  • NHS defenders?
  • Greenpeace?
  • Campaigners against the UK's nuclear weapons of mass destruction?
  • People who oppose the UK's and NATO's reckless and murderous military adventurism in faraway lands?
  • Anyone who doubts the legitimacy of a government voted for by under a quarter of the electorate, that claims a 'mandate' to impose deep, far reaching, dangerous and deeply divisive changes on our country?
  • Journalists, editors and photographers in the alternative media - like The Ecologist - or who simply express ideas or publish articles that dissent from the mainstream?
  • Me - for writing this article?


Does this mean that all hunt saboteurs will be banned from being interviewed? Does it mean anti-fur campaigners will have to submit all their Facebook comments to the police for vetting before being allowed to post?

Does it mean that they will close down UK operations of TV stations like RT and Al Jazeera if they interview a Muslim imam who has not committed any crime but who has views the state has arbitrarily decided are 'extremist'? Is this not the end of free speech?

A blank cheque for the suppresion of civil iberties

The wording is so vague and all-encompassing, that it gives the police a blank cheque to make criminals of all of us, without any of us even committing a crime. Is it not the ultimate in thought crime?

And of course the government also wants to repeal the Human Rights Act, pass a new 'British Bill of Rights', and declare its immunity from the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights - something it would surely have to do to impose its 'thought crime law'.

We already have one indication of how the law may be used - and that the media are very much in the sights of the police. In 2013 six journalists found that the Metropolitan Police had entered them onto their Domestic Extremism Database - among them Adrian Arbib, who wrote about his experience for The Ecologist.

As Arbib warned, "to judge by its shabby record, the British state is all too ready to abuse its powers by turning them against people in ways that were never envisaged or intended by legislators, including legitimate and peaceful campaigners, protestors, dissidents of various stripes - and the media.

"The last thing we should allow is for the state to take on yet greater powers, only for them to turn against us when it suits them, and further restrict the freedom of the media that holds an essential role in any free and democratic nation."

The pic above was taken during my arrest whilst chanting in a tiny pop-up tent, at the foot of Mahatma Gandhi's feet, in a protest calling for the criminalisation of fossil fuel exploration. My initial court hearing for this 'crime' will be on Monday morning.

Will I now have to submit all of my Facebook postings / comments to the police before writing future postings? Will you? Will our Muslim friends?

This 'thought crime law' has no place in a liberal democracy. It turns us into a de facto Murdocracy. It must be stopped.

The Prostitute State is now running rampant!!

 


 

Donnachadh McCarthy is a member of Occupy Democracy, co-organiser for Occupy Rupert Murdoch Week, a former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats, and author of "The Prostitute State - How Britain's Democracy Has Been Bought". He can be reached via his website 3acorns. Follow on Facebook.

Petition: 'Save the Human Rights Act' (38 Degrees).

Copies of 'The Prostitute State - How Britain's Democracy Has Been Bought' are available from theprostitutestate.co.uk. E-book version available from Lulu.com.

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